Chris and Pam Schmick had spent six months cleaning out the scrap metal from their abandoned silos and just finished drilling thousands of holes in its walls. With little time to spare, they prepared for their climbing gym's grand opening on September 2, 1995—a date on which they had already agreed to hold a regional JCCA competition. The effort they've expended in the nearly 20 intervening years shows: today, climbers scramble on top ropes, lead ropes, and more than 20,000 square feet of lava-free climbing surface.
Instructors prepare visitors to surmount the gym's features in a range of classes, such as Rock Gym 101, which is an introduction to top-rope climbing that covers climbing safety, basic technique, and equipment. Once climbers are equipped with gear from the pro-shop, staff shows them around a multi-level bouldering cave, a main climbing area with 30-foot walls shaped by arêtes, cracks, and waves, and the building's five original silos. Elsewhere inside the gym, six auto-belays safely cradle visitors who wish to climb without taking a class.
After setting its wheels to the pavement in the early 1930s, South Side Cyclery today operates three stores in the St. Louis area that cater to cycling enthusiasts, with two-wheeled steeds, tools, and accessories by brands such as Giant, Specialized, and Schwinn. The ride-wise staff at each location guides riders to new mountain, road, or children’s bikes suited to any size, skill level, or fear of unicyclists. Visitors peruse more than 800 bikes in stock, enjoying free on-site assembly before wheeling their new toy off the lot. New rides include complimentary adjustments for one year, whereas all services—including tune-ups, flat-tire fixes, and chest bumps on the way out the door—also carry a 90-day warranty.
With Y-kiki Divers' Discover Scuba Diving class, aspiring aqua explorers can get a taste of navigating the sea's depths under the tutelage of one of Y-kiki Divers' trained staff members. After mastering basic scuba skills and concepts, each diver experiments with the weightlessness of underwater existence. Diving in the safe, supervised, chlorinated cradle of a swimming pool almost entirely prevents peanut butter and jellyfish incidents. Students must sign a liability release and fill out a medical questionnaire available on the Y-kiki Divers' website. Skippers as young as 10 can participate in this experience, but all those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent. The Groupon includes all equipment except bathing suit and towel. View the schedule to see when and where classes will be held. Though not included in this Groupon, those sold on the powers of the in-ground seas can progress to open-water diving courses with Y-kiki Divers.
Founded in 1973, Backwoods carries the latest collections of outdoor clothing and survival supplies for amateur earth explorers. Ascend summits in style with polyurethane-padded North Face gloves ($25), heavyweight fleece finger cocoons that keep digits dexterous in colder climates. The honeycomb construction of Patagonia Capilene 3 long-sleeve shirts ($32) draws swarms of sweat away from human hives, keeping men and women warmer, drier, and significantly less slippery than their perspiration-coated companions. Eagle Creek’s ultimate packing solution set ($29.99) gives adventure-seekers three ways to safely stow wrinkle-free wearables during their travels, none of which involves mounting an armoire on roller skates. Turn a walk in the park with Fido into a trip along the trails with a roamer leash ($24) to keep him close and a bivy bowl ($19) to satisfy his thirst for canine champagne.
Center St. Louis provides a place where athletes and can practice and compete, staying on top of their game all year long. Forty years ago, the building?now complete with modern lighting and climate-control systems?housed a racquet club, but today it provides training facilities for all manner of team sports. The massive swath of indoor, all-purpose turf provides ample space for football, lacrosse, or ultimate-frisbee practice. Center St. Louis also features six 50-foot batting cages and six hardwood basketball courts. A separate gym area allows visitors to schedule workouts with certified trainers who can help develop strength, conditioning, or speed and agility depending on the individuals' athletic needs. In addition to providing training grounds, Center St. Louis rents its facilities to tournament organizers.
The cycling enthusiasts at Big Shark Bicycle Company cultivate a collection of bike-related products, events, and classes to cater to cyclists of all levels. They stage a variety of races and events including runs, triathlons, criteriums, open water swims, weekend recreational rides, classes, clinics, and special events. And, to help bikers train for such events, Big Shark Bicycle Company also offers classes such as cycling 101, which focuses on bike repair offers basic race training.